Definition of subject in US English:



Pronunciation /ˈsəbdʒɛkt//ˈsəbjekt/
  • 1A person or thing that is being discussed, described, or dealt with.

    ‘I've said all there is to be said on the subject’
    ‘he's the subject of a major new biography’
    • ‘Rowlands tried but failed to secure an emergency parliamentary statement on the subject.’
    • ‘Find something that you think would make a good subject and submit a proposal.’
    • ‘Despite some bold statements, the subject always came back to science.’
    • ‘They do this because they think one should discuss questions about goodness, justice and expediency in this place which was founded by the man who made all these subjects his business.’
    • ‘It seems clear from the responses that we prefer to put to the backs of our minds unpalatable subjects such as injury, death, being left without a partner or our children being orphaned.’
    • ‘Another indication may be whether I am asked to speak about a subject that involves this statement.’
    • ‘With that as his last statement on the subject, suddenly, he too was racing out the door.’
    • ‘We welcome proposals suggesting new subjects for review essays, both within and across disciplines.’
    • ‘When I went to the library to see if there was anything on the subject there was very little.’
    • ‘In the beginning, conditions in the camp were tolerable and some prisoners, being specialists in certain fields, would entertain themselves by lecturing to others on diverse subjects.’
    • ‘Indeed, throughout the book there is the recurrent suggestion that a grand connection between the two subjects will be revealed.’
    • ‘Mr Smith should present reasoned arguments, not use broad sweeping statements about subjects which it seems he does not fully understand.’
    • ‘But too often he speaks his mind on subjects best left alone, and he will undoubtedly upset someone, somewhere.’
    • ‘Since all three of these surfaces have been subjects of projects for me, I could not resist the temptation to illustrate The Proof of Archytas.’
    • ‘He wrote five works on the subject, the most important of which is one on inference.’
    • ‘The Musical Times is a quarterly journal that considers for publication articles on a wide variety of musical subjects.’
    • ‘They have a guest speaker at their monthly meetings, dealing with subjects diverse and interesting.’
    • ‘Anything written on the subject is now a look back at a historical event.’
    • ‘Columella was a Roman soldier and farmer who wrote extensively on agriculture and similar subjects, hoping to foster in people a love for farming and a liking for the simple life.’
    • ‘Most mathematicians study the subject because they develop such a deep love of the topic.’
    theme, subject matter, topic, issue, question, concern, text, thesis, content, point, motif, thread
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A person or circumstance giving rise to a specified feeling, response, or action.
      ‘the incident was the subject of international condemnation’
      • ‘Shops along the southern side of Union Street also need to be spruced up but are now the subject of intensive public debate.’
      • ‘Its original plans were thrown out by the city council and are the subject of a forthcoming public inquiry.’
      • ‘Whether the bill ought to be made the subject of public comment and consultation before its passage in Parliament?’
      • ‘There was a punter somewhere in Britain whose name I forget but whose strange activities were the subject of some publicity many years ago.’
      • ‘The defendant had once been made the subject of a community penalty and did well.’
      • ‘From our responses, the subject of shirt sponsorship is a sensitive one for United fans.’
      • ‘This all seems to be in response to the subject of human rights and the inclusion of sexual orientation in the bill.’
      • ‘By January of this year the issue of the aluminum tubes had already become a subject of intense public debate.’
      • ‘This appeal is now due to be the subject of a new public inquiry into whether the 1965 consent is valid.’
      • ‘He has said he wants to find out about the difficulties which have been the subject of much public debate in recent months.’
      • ‘Norway's polar bear population will be the subject of a census this year.’
      • ‘Smith was made the subject of a community rehabilitation order for two years.’
      • ‘The guided part of the project is the subject of a public inquiry which started this week.’
      • ‘Traditionally, this sort of thing has never been a subject of public concern in Britain.’
      • ‘Why obscure a news photo taken in a public place about a subject of national concern?’
      • ‘Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, is not generally the subject of short-term speculation.’
      • ‘The judge said Parker, who was the subject of a community rehabilitation order, seemed to be responding well and wanted to encourage him.’
      • ‘The issue of gated communities has been a subject of intense public debate and litigation in recent months.’
      • ‘Instead, we will turn to some of the issues generated by the subject of authenticity.’
      • ‘But it must be confirmed by the full council and must be the subject of public submissions before being imposed.’
    2. 1.2 A person who is the focus of scientific or medical attention or experiment.
      • ‘Several subjects produced diagnosis cards and follow-up notes from medical clinics.’
      • ‘Davies is also keen on another idea: getting the subjects of medical research, the patients, more involved.’
      • ‘Once their clinical training begins medical students are subject to high levels of stress, and some do not respond well.’
      • ‘None of the subjects acknowledged using any medications, including over-the-counter drugs.’
      • ‘None of the control subjects were taking prescription medications, and all had normal spirometry.’
      • ‘The subjects, from Medicare lists, were followed for 5 years to look for new heart attacks, angina, heart failure or stroke.’
      • ‘Asthma was documented by the subject's medical history and by physician diagnosis.’
      • ‘In these experiments, test subjects with maladies ranging from severe brain trauma to bipolar disorder undergo a battery of visual tests.’
      • ‘This would have enhanced slightly the observed difference in D between the healthy subjects and the emphysema patients.’
      • ‘Things get problematic when you confuse the test result with the subject.’
      • ‘Just as every article has a list of authors, every research study should include a statement regarding human subjects.’
      • ‘Repeating the experiments with other subjects adversely affects the scientific value of the results.’
      • ‘Our methodology could be used to address this question and to identify those attributes that are common predictors of quality for different medical subjects.’
      • ‘Beecher, himself a physician, detailed the routine abuses of human research subjects in medical experiments.’
      • ‘This was measured by responses to binary forced choice questions (yes or no) asking if the subjects would take the proposed action.’
      • ‘This is a condition in which subjects have had a portion of their primary visual cortex destroyed, and apparently become blind in a region of their visual field as a result.’
      • ‘The proposed study subjects would be twenty victims of violent assault who have been given diagnoses of post-traumatic stress disorder.’
      • ‘Our medical researchers are in desperate need of real, human subjects to experiment with cures, as they have been unfairly restricted to the use of white rats.’
      • ‘Perhaps the greatest surprise in the study was the huge disparity between how the subjects performed in the real life situations and their results on the test.’
      • ‘The crucial difference between the two series is that, although they both set out to explain human development, only the television series projects scientific theory onto real subjects.’
      participant, volunteer
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3Logic The part of a proposition about which a statement is made.
      • ‘It is the medium in which objects and subjects actually come into existence, and is the medium in which their virtuality resides.’
      • ‘This book is an introduction to logic, as contemporary logicians now understand the subject.’
    4. 1.4Music A theme of a fugue or of a piece in sonata form; a leading phrase or motif.
      • ‘When changing from the lighter Handel subjects to the deep tragedy of Haydn, immediately his mannerism changed and so did the mood of the audience.’
      • ‘A second subject is more lyrical, but the first is never far away and is used to conclude the movement.’
      • ‘At the premiere Handel gave an organ extemporisation on the fugal subject taken up by the choir.’
      • ‘Indeed, the fugue's subject is almost a twin to the opening theme of Flos campi.’
      • ‘Schumann often worries his musical subjects beyond their deadline.’
  • 2A branch of knowledge studied or taught in a school, college, or university.

    • ‘The standing of the teaching profession is such that those leaving schools with high performances in science and technology related subjects do not choose teaching as a career.’
    • ‘He realised that a writer had to widen his mind when he encountered cartoonist Madan's multifaceted knowledge of subjects from anthropology to psychology.’
    • ‘Even kindergartens teach kids advanced subjects such as math, English and Chinese characters.’
    • ‘The National Curriculum, stipulating subjects to be studied until the age of 16, is also introduced.’
    • ‘It is there that subjects are taught in Gaelic, the only college in Scotland where this happens.’
    • ‘I was taught all the regular subjects, algebra and trigonometry, English and classical literature, history and current events.’
    • ‘The names of the high school and college subjects in this story have been changed for the sake of privacy.’
    • ‘They bought a cottage on the main street and converted it into a shop called Reading Glasses which specializes in women's studies and social sciences, the subjects she used to teach.’
    • ‘Physical Education lessons are part of the National Curriculum and therefore the subject is taught in schools up and down the country.’
    • ‘Besides content, the manner in which subjects are taught has differential effects on the children of those in dominant and subordinate positions.’
    • ‘So from that we can conclude that girls have more knowledge about the subjects which are examined in today's society than boys.’
    • ‘Why can English and maths not be taught within subjects like history and geography rather than separately?’
    • ‘It is important for young people to have training opportunities, but the place for teaching these subjects is at college.’
    • ‘Immersion programs, in which some or all academic subjects are taught in the foreign language, are content based.’
    • ‘On the other hand, districts have used shortages to rationalize the employment of people who have not studied and do nor know the subjects they will teach.’
    • ‘He was principal of Granville High School and taught a variety of subjects in Ohio public schools.’
    • ‘They gain knowledge of subjects in which they are and are not interested.’
    • ‘He is now attached to a primary school, even though he is qualified to teach politics and other subjects in middle schools.’
    • ‘Mr. Burke is quick to caution that no education is free of cultural bias, even if the subject being taught is physics or biology.’
    • ‘Academic freedom is not to be completely free to decide what subjects to teach, or even what material to cover, but free to write and express new ideas.’
    branch of knowledge, branch of study, course of study, course, discipline, field, area, specialism, speciality, specialty
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  • 3A citizen or member of a state other than its supreme ruler.

    • ‘The strange case of Duleep Singh, Victoria's favorite Maharaja: a ruler without any subjects.’
    • ‘The priests were said to use the sacraments to make the Queen's subjects switch their allegiance to the King of Spain.’
    • ‘They were primarily to secure the allegiance of their subject, with most barons providing military service.’
    • ‘According to the Islamic Treatise on Holy Law, the ruler comes to power by an agreement between the ruler and his subjects.’
    • ‘She argues that the identification of subjects as tribe members or peasants reflects very different terms of access to resources in the eyes of the state.’
    • ‘The films shared a common theme: the princess-turned-stunt-woman must conquer evil power in the kingdom and set free good subjects and rulers.’
    • ‘After all, in opening the gallery in 1962, she had been the first British monarch to let her subjects give the family silverware to the Antiques Roadshow once-over.’
    • ‘Rather, diverse theories have been employed to explain why rulers and subjects think and act as they do and how their thoughts and actions shape the course of politics.’
    • ‘These historians believe that the Taj Mahal symbolizes the tyranny of a powerful ruler exploiting his subjects and flaunting his magnificence to the world.’
    • ‘The traditional ruler explained that his subjects had vowed to vote for any of the opposition parties that may adopt candidates from the local people living in Chilubi.’
    • ‘An increasing number of subjects felt that members of the royal family wished to be ordinary people when it suited them, royal when it did not.’
    • ‘They had suffered severe persecution since 1570, when the Pope had excommunicated Elizabeth, releasing her subjects from their allegiance to her.’
    • ‘He was most tolerant of all Mughal rulers and let his subjects practice their faiths without any fear of persecution.’
    • ‘Rulers are above their subjects, at a distance, and not fully observed.’
    • ‘The relationship that the population of Northern Ireland - elites and ordinary people - have to the peace process is like that of subjects to a monarch.’
    • ‘In saltana, there are no citizens, only subjects, while the ruler is unaccountable except to God.’
    • ‘The highest duty of a ruler is to protect his subjects; the ruler who enjoys the rewards of his position is bound to that duty.’
    • ‘These answers are interchangeable and, what is more important, absolve both rulers and subjects from facing reality and taking responsibility.’
    • ‘The very nature of this prohibition makes it ideally adapted to produce direct effects in the legal relationship between Member States and their subjects.’
    • ‘The gulf between the union's rulers and their subjects is now unbridgeable.’
    citizen, national, native, resident, inhabitant
    liege, liegeman, vassal, subordinate, underling
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  • 4Grammar
    A noun phrase functioning as one of the main components of a clause, being the element about which the rest of the clause is predicated.

    • ‘This style is formal, favouring noun clauses as subjects and objects, and often postponing the main verb, or distancing it from the subject.’
    • ‘Two of the subjects produced target language variants of the two structures more consistently after pronoun subjects than after subjects containing a noun.’
    • ‘An incidental point: once we have accusative subjects, the third-person singular verb form comes in here comes me is just what we'd expect.’
    • ‘There are verbs taking a subject and two objects and a subordinate clause.’
    • ‘Government is an extension of the traditional term whereby a verb governs its object, but for Chomsky prepositions may govern and subjects may be governed.’
  • 5Philosophy
    A thinking or feeling entity; the conscious mind; the ego, especially as opposed to anything external to the mind.

    • ‘Object in his parlance means something met with in experience, or in the subject's consciousness.’
    • ‘In the latter case some go as far as speaking unhesitatingly of the mind as a subject - or a self, ego, or even a soul.’
    • ‘In the philosophy of consciousness a subject has over against it a world of objects.’
    1. 5.1 The central substance or core of a thing as opposed to its attributes.


Pronunciation /ˈsəbdʒɛkt//ˈsəbjekt/
  • 1Likely or prone to be affected by (a particular condition or occurrence, typically an unwelcome or unpleasant one)

    ‘he was subject to bouts of manic depression’
    susceptible to, liable to, prone to, vulnerable to, predisposed to, disposed to, apt to suffer from, likely to suffer from, easily affected by, in danger of, at risk of, open to, wide open to
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  • 2Dependent or conditional upon.

    ‘the proposed merger is subject to the approval of the shareholders’
    • ‘A report to the authority, which meets on Tuesday, recommends approval of some of the plans subject to some design changes.’
    • ‘Banks will have the freedom to charge PLR or sub-PLR rates subject to approval of their boards.’
    • ‘It is also subject to environmental approval and the negotiation of a satisfactory dredging contract.’
    • ‘He wants our national security decisions subject to the approval of a foreign government.’
    • ‘The Labour group has agreed in principle to the proposals, subject to certain conditions.’
    • ‘Member States of the Community may issue coins subject to approval of the European Central Bank as to volume.’
    • ‘The committee voted to approve the plans subject to a legal occupancy agreement being drawn up.’
    conditional on, contingent on, dependent on, depending on, controlled by
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  • 3Under the authority of.

    ‘legislation making Congress subject to the laws it passes’
    • ‘This is because decisions that concern matters of policy are not subject to a common law duty of care.’
    • ‘Banks falling under the securities laws are obviously subject to both banking and securities regulation.’
    • ‘It seems that there is some force at work that is not completely subject to the usual laws of nature or of averages.’
    • ‘If there was no reason at all for the choice, then we have found something that is not subject to the laws of Nature.’
    • ‘Once voted down, a new rule on the same subject needs authorization by an act of Congress.’
    • ‘In fact, the airport is not subject to the same laws of the land as the rest of us.’
    • ‘He is God, and therefore not subject to the laws and limitations which he has imposed upon us as our sovereign.’
    • ‘Gentile believers during Acts were not subject to the law.’
    bound by, constrained by, answerable to, accountable to, liable to, under the control of, at the mercy of
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    1. 3.1attributive Under the control or domination of another ruler, country, or government.
      ‘the Greeks were the first subject people to break free from Ottoman rule’
      • ‘England has always dominated the United Kingdom, although its position has not been that of a colonial power over subject nations.’
      • ‘First, there may be a change of mind or a regime change on behalf of the subject country.’
      • ‘For aliens of enemy origin, the imperialist understanding of political subject status meant two things.’
      • ‘The Confessionalization offered the state greater control over the subject population.’
      • ‘This elite had no formal place in the fifteenth century constitutions and was therefore not subject to direct control.’
      • ‘They had to build castles - strong points from which a few men could dominate a subject population.’
      • ‘If he is not supported by his own side and if he is then subject to a coup from within fairly rapidly, then we will avoid that scenario.’
      • ‘Bitterness at Aztec rule grew ever more intense among the subject peoples and classes.’


Pronunciation /ˈsəbjekt//ˈsəbdʒɛkt/
subject to
  • Conditionally upon.

    ‘subject to bankruptcy court approval, the company expects to begin liquidation of its inventory’


[with object]
Pronunciation /səbˈdʒɛkt//səbˈjekt/
  • 1subject someone/something toCause or force to undergo (a particular experience of form of treatment)

    ‘he'd subjected her to a terrifying ordeal’
    • ‘Having no history, we cannot subject their deceptions to the scrutiny of experience, cannot judge their words by the truth of similar words uttered to us in the past.’
    • ‘It made it an offence to try to force someone to reveal a spent conviction, or to subject someone to unlawful discrimination.’
    • ‘‘They claim to be against cruelty to animals but they are quite happy to subject human beings to mental cruelty,’ he told the paper.’
    • ‘The researchers placed the crystal-coated phages on a silicon surface and subjected them to a heat treatment that killed off the virus while fusing the crystals into a semi-conducting nanowire.’
    • ‘Furthermore the portrayal of explicit sex without violence, but which subjects people to treatment that is degrading or dehumanizing, would also be obscene if it causes harm.’
    • ‘Better to leave Brown as a name and a picture on a dust jacket than to subject someone to this version of her story.’
    • ‘After producing the knife he subjected them to a terrifying experience during which he made them hand over their valuables, blindfolded them, tied them up and raped them.’
    • ‘Hospital admission can be a traumatizing event for patients and subjects them to the inevitable treatment errors that occur in this setting.’
    • ‘He told Mr Justice Collins: ‘It is inhumane to subject someone to that sort of destitution.’’
    • ‘She also said he subjected her to mental cruelty and caused her to go bankrupt.’
    • ‘Traffic between the dishes was then cut off, and the colony was subjected to one of three treatments.’
    • ‘But again it would be inappropriate and unethical to use a placebo when the consequences of doing so would subject someone to the risk of serious or irreversible harm.’
    • ‘Curiously, there does not seem to be any footage of the select committee subjecting Alastair Campbell to equivalent treatment.’
    • ‘He served first on a ship then in an artillery workshop but he found his fellow soldiers very difficult as they subjected him to cruelty.’
    • ‘The idea of having his child did not frighten me as much as the thought of myself being forced to marry him or subject a child to his treatment.’
    • ‘I can think of only two reasons to subject travelers to such treatment.’
    • ‘‘If you subject someone to regular colon cleansing, you disrupt the colon's normal function,’ he explains.’
    • ‘A city court today sentenced an executive of a private company and his parents to life imprisonment for causing the death of his wife after subjecting her to extreme cruelty due to dowry demands.’
    • ‘You subjected them to a terrifying experience.’
    • ‘It's quite another to subject hundreds to that treatment because you've invented such poor mechanisms for screening.’
    put through, treat with
    View synonyms
  • 2Bring (a person or country) under one's control or jurisdiction, typically by using force.

    • ‘Once they regained consciousness, they were subjected to same brutal torture.’
    • ‘His appeal to citizenship rights would be subjected to the jurisdiction of the national laws in whatever state he was residing.’
    • ‘In other words, the major German firms were subjected to tight political supervision and control but were still left at least nominally in private ownership.’
    • ‘Moreover, the Malaysian judiciary has been subjected to close political control since independence in 1957.’


Middle English (in the sense ‘(person) owing obedience’): from Old French suget, from Latin subjectus ‘brought under’, past participle of subicere, from sub- ‘under’ + jacere ‘throw’. Senses relating to philosophy, logic, and grammar are derived ultimately from Aristotle's use of to hupokeimenon meaning ‘material from which things are made’ and ‘subject of attributes and predicates’.